“Right or Wrong Choices ...?
A New Path or a Precipice ...?
Eternally repeated Questions with no Answers.
A Flight through the Air or a Fall into the Abyss?”
- The Prophet of Truth
She stopped again as she reached her sister’s room. Her heart jumped anxiously the minute she recognized the bright voice echoing from inside. And, in the next instant, Sarah stormed through the door and jumped to her sister’s neck, who, sitting on the bed, looked every bit surprised by that sudden invasion.
“Selena!” she sobbed as tears filled her eyes once more and buried her face on the young girl’s shoulder. “Oh my God! I’m so glad!”
Selena smiled and caressed her sister’s hair, trying to calm her down.
“I’m okay.” Sarah looked away to dry her tears before turning to face her.
“Are you sure? Are you certain that it doesn’t hurt anywhere?” she insisted, worrying, and Selena laughed, completely relaxed which left her suddenly silent.
“I’m sure. The doctor was just here and said I’m all better. If you don’t believe me just ask Aaran,” she declared proudly and only then Sarah recalled the silent presence of someone else in that room.
“I called the doctor as soon as Selena woke up so he could check on her. It would seem everything’s fine,” Aaran confirmed in his usual indifferent tone and Sarah nodded.
“But they still want to keep me for the night!” Selena complained. “I hate hospitals! I want to go home!” she demanded and the sudden wave of sadness that she felt from her left a bitter knot around Sarah’s throat. She could still clearly remember how Selena had glued herself to her bed, refusing to sleep, speak or eat over the three days she had been hospitalized after the accident.
“Me too.” She ran a hand through the young girl’s hair and forced a smile to take over her lips. “But now we’ll be together. Everything’s going to be all right. You just have to be a bit more patient.”
“I can always talk to the doctor and ask him to release her,” Aaran offered, which left a hopeful gleam in Selena’s eyes, and Sarah turned to face him.
“I won’t be separated from her again!” she declared vehemently, leaving implicit the consequences of her statement. “Wherever Selena goes, I’m going as well.”
Aaran nodded curtly and left them alone.
“Can’t we go home?” Selena asked and Sarah placed a smile on her lips to face her.
“Not yet, sweetie, I’m sorry,” she replied, holding her hands, and Selena sighed.
“I miss home …”
“I know. I miss home too. But there’s been some … complications and right now home is not safe.”
“It’s complicated. I’ll explain everything later, okay? Now you just worry about getting better.”
Selena averted her gaze and looked out the window, her expression somewhat confused as if she was trying to remember something.
“Aaran said there was a fire ..:” she muttered, sounding half unsure, and Sarah couldn’t help feeling apprehensive. “I remember I was playing hide and seek … We heard screaming … I think it was Martha. Miriam went to see what had happened. Karl and I stayed in the basement … We heard voices arguing but couldn’t understand what they were saying … But I’m certain that there were other people in the house. And then Miriam was screaming … and then she stopped screaming and everything went silent. I asked Karl to stay, I was sure there was something really wrong going on upstairs. But he wouldn’t listen. She was his sister, he said, and so he left me alone … I only heard footsteps, and people tossing the furniture around. I hid in a corner, between two old bookshelves. I never felt so scared in my entire life. And then there was smoke … I almost chocked so I wouldn’t cough, afraid they might hear me … And then I started to fill dizzy, and it got harder to breathe. And then Aaran was there,” she declared and turned to face Sarah as if she’d finally found what she’d been looking for. “I thought he was going to kill me! But he saved me.”
Sarah merely nodded. Aaran had warned her about the effects of diluting the intensity of her memories but the result was almost frightening. There was nothing left, she concluded. No pain, no fear, no guilt … nothing from the sea of emotions that had almost rendered her unconscious just a few hours ago. Some confusion and curiosity, but nothing more. Selena talked about what had happened as if she were telling someone else’s story, and not her own.
“Don’t think about it anymore. It’s over, now. You’re okay and that’s all that matters,” she told her although the words had frozen her chest. Because Selena would never be able to cry or to feel for the death of the family that had so gently offered to keep her and help them in their time of need. Those were feelings that would forever belong only to her … and that was fine, she told herself. Selena had suffered enough. All she wanted was for her sister to go back to beeing the joyful teenager she’d always been, as soon as possible.
Aaran came back a few minutes later in the company of a strangely smiling and condescending doctor. Of course he’d rather keep the girl another night, for observation. However he could easily understand, after all she’d been through, that her family would rather take her home. And so, as long as Sarah promised to keep an eye on her over the next twenty-four hours, he was willing to release her from the depressing environment that was the hospital.
Sarah almost felt tempted to question Aaran about his methods of persuasion, but since that meant she could take Selena away from that place sooner than expected - which meant she didn’t have to spend another second immersed in that sea of uncontrolled negative emotions - she just nodded gratefully at the list of recommendations and went to sign the release papers.
And so, half an hour later, Sarah was anxiously pushing Selena’s wheelchair down the corridor towards the door, a persistent smile stretching her lips.
“Where are we going?” Selena asked, but before she could give her the name of some hotel, a black Lexus IS-F, as new as if it had just left the store, pulled over right in front of them.
Sarah almost choked when the door opened and Alexis stepped out from inside it, standing up to his full intimidating height. Her heart jumped unwillingly as he approach them in his firm rhythmic pace, until he stopped right in front of Selena greeting her with a smile that would steal any woman’s breath away.
“Well, hello young lady. My name is Alexis,” he declared in a soft purr with a gracious bow, and Selena gave a very feminine chuckle as she stared up at him fascinated.
“Ah, yes … I’m Selena,” she replied and immediately turned back to her sister, with a malicious grin. “Is this the friend you told me about?” she guessed and Sarah sighed, abstaining from answering.
What is he doing?!
As if he’d just read her mind, Alexis stepped aside, indicating his car with a graceful gesture.
“If you’ll allow me, I’d be glad to have you both stay at my place,” he told them and Selena’s eyes opened wide as she looked back at her sister again, a mischievous smile taking over her face.
Sarah felt as her cheeks warmed up, especially when faced with Selena’s amused and inquisitive look, and just pushed her chair towards the Lexus, forcing Alexis to take another step back to avoid being run over.
“You just be quiet! Sick people need to sleep, a lot!” she grunted under her breath and Selena muffled a laughter, covering her lips with one hand.
She was about to get up to get in the car when Aaran suddenly appeared at her side, easily picking her up and gently placing her on the back seat, before he walked away again without a single word.
Sarah took her place beside her and they both waited until Alexis returned to the driver’s seat.
“And Aaran?” Selena asked, noticing they were about to leave and that he was nowhere to be seen, and Alexis looked at her through the rear mirror.
“Aaran still has a few things to take care of. He’ll meet us later,” he told her as started the engine.
Selena sat quietly all the way, watching the lights pass outside her window, until she eventually fell asleep.
Wrapping an arm around her, Sarah pulled her closer, offering her shoulder so she could get some rest. The girl’s soft and rhythmic breathing filled the silence and Sarah found herself smiling at the thought of having her there, beside her and alive.
Her mind only returned to the present when she started to recognize the neighborhood. And, as she raised her head to talk to him, she noticed he’d been looking at her through the rear mirror, which left her even more embarrassed.
“Are you sure this is the best option?” she asked, trying to mask her childish reaction. “It’s another Human whose memories you won’t be able to erase. Selena and I could as easily go to a Hotel …”
“It wouldn’t be safe,” he replied, interrupting her. “It’s hard enough protecting one Human, protecting two … There are too many variables. The only viable solution is keeping you both where I know they won’t be able to reach you,” he declared with conviction and Sarah had no way to argue.
The truth was she was still affected by what had happened in that terrace, and no matter how much she tried to act normally, it was still hard to face him.
Even so, she was relieved to see the house. Soon she’d be able to take a warm shower, stretch on a soft bed and sleep until the next day. She’d leave the thinking and worrying for the next morning.
Once parked in front of the house, Alexis walked over to Selena’s door and opened it, easily picking her up as if she were weightless. Sarah silently followed him into the house.
Anne was already sleeping, which was good since it meant a few less explanations, but the second room on the upper floor had been made and arranged to receive another guest.
Alexis placed Selena on the bed, careful not to wake her, and silently retracted his footsteps towards the door.
“I went by your house, yesterday, and brought some things I figured belonged to her,” he told Sarah in a whisper, referring to the bags on the floor, by the bed. “I also brought your mail, since it could be something important,” he added and Sarah followed his gaze towards the small table where he’d placed a few white envelopes. “I’ll be downstairs, if you need anything,” he told her and, as she didn’t reply, ended up exiting the room and carefully closing the door behind him.
Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! Not even a thank you you were able to give him!
With a sigh she covered Selena with a soft blanket and smiled as the girl turned to her side, looking for a more comfortable position.
Then she carried the bags to the closet that, unlike hers, was completely empty, and started hanging her sister’s clothes. It was the least she could do, she thought, since she couldn’t take her home, as promised. At least she wished Selena could feel safe, there, since she’d probably never feel at home. Selena was too attached to the house where she’d lived since childhood, the house where she’d lived with her parents, the house filled with memories of those that would never return.
As she put the girl’s clothes in order, Alexis’ words came back to her. Yesterday, he’d said. Yesterday, while she was still wallowing in despair, unsure of whether Selena would even wake up at all, and he’d already decided to let them stay with him … And she had been so ungrateful …
By the time she finished finding the perfect place for everything she felt almost too tired to even stand. She hadn’t slept at all for the last twenty-four hours, had had very little to eat, and the clothes she wore were still the same she had on her when she’d left home two nights ago. Still she took the time to go through the letters Alexis had brought her. There were two bills and some other unimportant mail, plus a letter from the court and another from her lawyer that deserved special attention. Nevertheless she wouldn’t read any of them that night, she decided tucking them in her pocket. She was too tired to force her brain to decode legal terms. She’d address them first thing in the morning. And, leaving the bathroom light on, as Alexis had done for her on the first night she’d spent in that house, Sarah left the room longing for a good night’s rest of her own.